Grateful Parents: Grateful Kids

Finally, about ten years ago, the light began to dawn, and you can’t imagine how disappointed I was.  I realized that parenting is not a cause and effect proposition.  It’s not a vending machine in which I insert my actions (seizing teachable moments, training in character, consistency in discipline) and then am rewarded by equal and corresponding reactions (obedience, respect, good behavior).

I’m a slow learner, so this was earth-shattering for me, but . . .

Having said that, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch reminds me that if I want my children to appreciate their blessings and to operate out of gratitude rather than entitlement, I had better be modeling the right heart attitude myself.

In the Great Balancing Act called parenting, we are at war against three words:  “Is that all?”  In ourselves, in our kids, Western culture exacerbates our entrenched selfishness in everything from “ice cream servings to allowances.”  “Enough” is never enough.

Kristen is writing from the trenches of raising three kids, and so the tone of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World is NOT “we have arrived and here’s how your kids can ooze gratitude like our perfect children do.”  She comes alongside her readers with humble offerings:  “Here’s what we’re doing.  Here’s what others have tried, and that’s great, too.”  Kristen’s perspective is derived from the knowledge that parents who are willing to fight against the prevailing culture and for an attitude of thankfulness in their children will feel as if they are swimming upstream.

My oldest son talked early — and often — so I can still hear his husky toddler voice saying, “There’s a difference between a need and a want.”  To me!  Even so, one need that is common to all kids is their parents’ love, and ironically, in our culture of possessions and privileges, it is common to find children who are sadly lacking in that need while every want is speedily fulfilled.

No one sets out with a goal of “spoiling” her children, but little daily choices that arise from incorrect thinking accomplish the task over time.  Kristen unmasks some of these:

  1.  We want our kids to be our friends.
  2.  We’re afraid to say no because of the fallout (slammed doors, tears, eye rolling, shouting).
  3. We feel guilty about our circumstances and try to compensate with permissiveness.
  4. We are busy.  We eat fast food on the way to one of Junior’s three different soccer league practices, take on an extra job to pay for a Disneyland vacation, and don’t have time for the slow work of eyeball to eyeball interaction in which we pass on our values.
  5. We don’t want them to fail, so we make things “easy” for them.
  6. We don’t want them to feel left out, so we cave to the “everyone else” argument.
  7. We don’t want them to be unhappy.

It is not for nothing, then, that Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World provides an end-of-each-chapter assortment of age-related hints for going against the flow.

For parents:

“Put a plan in place.  Decide in advance what you will say ‘yes’ to.”

For toddlers:

“Make cookies together.  You may eat one for your effort, and then give the rest away to brighten someone’s day.  Teach your children that we don’t have to keep everything for ourselves.”

For elementary age:

“Clean out closets and drawers, and instead of giving away only things that they won’t miss, urge your kids to include something they really love to share with someone else.”

For tweens/teens:

“It may seem to your son or daughter as if she’s the only one in her class or he’s the only one in his grade or on this planet who isn’t fitting in or keeping up.  But if we are going to compare ourselves to others, let’s also compare ourselves to kids who live in poverty.”

The award for most practical feature goes to the chapter called “Making Smart Choices about Technology” with its related idea of a cell phone contract.

Central to all this intentionality and hard work is the goal of  introducing kids to the freedom of self-discipline; to the security that comes from seeing parents follow through on their principles; and the self-confidence that can only come to kids who have been allowed to “struggle” a bit and then to solve their own problem before a parent comes swooping in to rob them of the privilege.  We must love our children enough to make the hard choices that lead to a lifestyle of gratitude.

This book was provided by Tyndale Momentum, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishing,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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36 thoughts on “Grateful Parents: Grateful Kids”

  1. Thanks for another thoughtful review, Michele! I’m thinking this can apply to us grandparents, as well. It’s too easy for this grandma to spoil the grandkids. We need to respect and enforce these kinds of parenting choices that our children make for their kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for visiting me this morning! I’m sure I fail at teaching my daughter to have a heart of gratitude. We can give her so much more than my parents were able to give me. God help me. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Michele, how I can relate! I am in the trenches right now and it really is an uphill battle, swimming against a powerful, cultural current! Homeschooling helps because my children no longer see all the gadgets and trinkets the other kids have and come home wanting them all! I look forward to when we cut the cable cord (soon, I pray!) and the commercials vanish from our sights too! But most importantly I pray! The best place for a mama to be is on her knees before The Creator! Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As the mother of a “tween,” your post title really caught my attention. We went through lessons in gratitude this past Christmas, when my child was the “only” one who didn’t get a cell phone upgrade for Christmas, but rather got the (expensive) pet she had been asking for. I’m grateful that our conversations with her stuck…at least for now. Hopefully, we can continue to instill a sense of gratitude in her as she goes into her teen years as well. It does make such a difference!

    Stopping by from Grace’s EncourageMeMonday linkup.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks like a fantastic book, Michele! I think I need this one for sure! I try to not get caught into trying everyone’s best ideas and conforming to what we “should” do, however, I love being educated and picking those things that line up with what the Spirit of God is guiding me toward! Thank you, as always, for your wonderful reviews!
    Blessings and smiles,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lori, you are a wise woman for resisting the pull toward trying everyone’s ideas. I have been in stages where I had a new philosophy of parenting every day of the week depending on what book I was torturing myself with at the time. As mums we need to trust the Spirit to lead us with our particular little brood of disciples. Thanks for your kindness with words! Always encouraging to hear from you!


  6. Michele, I enjoyed this review because I am in the middle of reading this very book 🙂 I am finding it to be a wonderful & thought provoking book even though my children are now raised. This is such a must read not only for parents but for each of us so that learn to cultivate a heart that is genuinely appreciative for all we already have. Wonderful review.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely love this! That list of “incorrect thinking” really hit me. I definitely do some of those things.

    I think a big culprit in our lack of gratitude is technology and ease of everything today. We have answers at the click of a button. We can text someone the moment we think of it and instantly get a reply. We can order everything we need online and have it delivered to our doorstep. Everything is immediate. So if anything takes time or effort, we’re not appreciative – we’re grouchy! This plays into self-discipline big time. Not just for kids, but us adults too!

    Thanks for sharing this with us for Tuesday Talk! I loved it! Pinning to the features board and sharing on facebook! -Jessica, Sweet Little Ones

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You certainly summarized our generation’s problem very well! I see it in my own heart. We really don’t want to stay the course if it means that we’ll be inconvenienced. Thanks for your encouragement here!


  8. Great topic. I am a mom of a now 22 and 26 year old. We were known as “those parents”, the strict ones. We told our girls in no uncertain terms, our job is to raise you to become beautiful Christian women, not be your friend. That is what your peers are for. While our girls had more than they probably needed, they knew it was a privilege not a God given RIGHT! There was no sense of entitlement. And, what they got could just as easily be taken away. We are often asked, “what we did?” We let go and let God!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Michele, this really does sound like a great book. I often struggle with figuring out how to help my kids be more grateful and less entitled. It can feel like a constant battle. But with God’s Word and great resources like this, there’s hope. Thanks for sharing, my friend!


  10. But as MiMi, I thought it was my job to spoil! LOL. I’ve read Kristen Welch’s writing for years. She is awesome! Thanks for sharing about her book at The Loft!


  11. Looks like a great book, Michele. Thanks for sharing, I missed it when you shared it before. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays to you. xoxo


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